Princess Charlene’s heart of gold
To the world, she is a blonde princess who is married to the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and living a life of royalty. However, beneath the designer gowns, luxury yachts, fast cars at the Grand Prix, diamonds and terriers, Princess Charlene of Monaco is simply a woman on a philanthropic mission.
From a young age she was taught by her parents, Mike and Lynette Wittstock, to give, teach and empower others.
Over the last five years, Princess Charlene, her parents and two brothers, Sean and Gareth, have been involved in various charity events and missions in and around Africa, through the Princess Charlene Foundation.
Growing up in Benoni, the three Wittstock children were all proud South Africans and this was displayed in their patriotic gesture everytime they visited a small fresh produce store called The Vegeterium, in Benoni west.
“When Mike and his kids would visit my store, he made them stand on the counter to sing the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, and they sang it beautifully, with pride and great love” said Rui Marques, the owner of The Vegetarium
On April 4, Princess Charlene donated her childhood swimming medals to the Gugulesiswe Primary School in Daveyton.
The medals, together with a portrait painting of the princess, were hand-delivered by Mike Wittstock. Princess Charlene’s foundation was launched at the school five years ago and she donated the medals to inspire young learners in Daveyton who have an interest in pursuing a swimming career.
Princess Charlene and her father are also working on a new charity horse race with Peermont called The Princess Charlene Empress Club Stake. The race is scheduled to take place on April 22 at the Turffontein Race Course. The race will be in aid of the SPCA, Red Cross South Africa and the Highveld Horsecare Unit.
On March 24, a gala dinner, held in the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II, took place at the Monaco Yacht Club to raise awareness for the Riviera Water Bike Challenge, a special project spearheaded by Gareth and in aid of The Princess Charlene Foundation. The event raised €266.150.
During the glittering event, Princess Charlene’s father surprised the guests with some local talent from the Male Cenestra Choir, who serenaded the guests with famous local South African melodies.
The evening was hosted by South African TV star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jo-Ann Strauss, while entertainment was provided by Garçons Chics, Capital Collective and the South African Cenestra Male Choir.
“When the choir finished performing, the guests were so impressed that they said they would like to host them again and again in the near future for various events” said Mike.
In the same month, the royal family welcomed the South African junior rugby team for the Sainte Devote Rugby Exchange Programme and the young players had an opportunity to meet the princess. They also had first aid and CPR sessions and water safety lessons with her.
The players spent time training and enjoying the sights of Monaco, before competing in and winning this year’s Sainte Devote Rugby Tournament.
The rugby exchange project is another mission spearheaded by Gareth. The Monaco team will visit South Africa later this year to play against the South African team.
During the month, Princess Charlene also travelled to Austria where she joined both the South African and Monaco delegations for the opening ceremony of the 2017 Special Olympics. The princess will soon visit South Africa for charity horse race in Turffontein.
All Photos: Eric Mathon / Palais Princier